The Future Shock Of No Jobs And Low Wages

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BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- We’ve often discussed the ongoing displacement of jobs by technology here, and we’re going to keep talking about it because it is both inevitable and a potentially-devastating blow to millions of people and their ability to earn a living.

This was the focus of a big conference in Dallas a few days ago, and the reports trickling out of it are both sobering and infuriating.

The sobering part is, change is coming, fast, and we’re not ready for it.

According to an account in the Dallas Morning News, a top banking executive said that while a lot of emphasis is being put on re-training workers to adjust to techonological changes, they “aren’t being beefed up fast enough to keep up with the disruption.”

Politicians have for many years been touting government retraining programs, especially for older workers. But a Harvard Business School professor told the conference he had spoken to a big-time investor who claimed he couldn’t find private-sector retraining programs to invest in.

Translation: business has left it to the public sector to shoulder the expense and difficulty of retraining, and now complains about the results.

The professor claims that investor says he wanted to reverse the job-loss cycle because “I’d like to be able to sleep at night,” but insomnia doesn’t seem like much of a problem for other CEOs.

One major Florida employer told the conference he’s preparing to slash payrolls as “we invest in automation,” and when asked if he sees broad-bases pay hikes ahead for his unspecialized workforce, replied: “Absolutely not.”

Moral of the story: change is inevitable, and businesses are not charities.

But executives who won’t invest in answers or peel off a bit of their profit to cushion the blow aren’t part of the solution--they’re part of the problem.

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Keller @ Large

Keller @ Large

Jon Keller is a WBZ TV & Radio political analyst. Read more

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